Respect Trailer: The Biopic Due Out This Summer
It’s been a hot second since we had a musician biopic, so here comes Respect. So Jennifer Hudson stars as Aretha Franklin in the film, which follows Franklin’s “career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom.” Interestingly enough, this isn’t the only Aretha Franklin-based dramatization we’ve had this year. In March, Cynthia Erivo played the Queen of Soul in the anthology series Genius: Aretha. Now, there’s a new Respect trailer, and you can watch it below.
In Respect, we follow “the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom” in “the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice”. Director Liesl Tommy makes her feature film debut with Respect. She’s the first Black woman ever nominated for a Tony award for Best Direction of a Play in 2016 for Eclipsed. And is an Associate Artist at the Berkeley Rep and an Artist Trustee with the Sundance Institute’s Board of Trustees.
“I got a phone call from the studio and they asked me to give a take on it”. Tommy said in a previous interview. “I sat with her music for a long time and did a little bit of research, but I’ve loved her music since I was a small child. And a take came to me. Sometimes in this life, you open up your channels and your heart, and something came to me and it was very specific. It started with the church and it finished with the church. It was her journey to superstardom. That was a time frame that just felt like that’s what it had to be. I pitched that to the studio. I pitched the journey of becoming Aretha Franklin as we know her. And all of the parts of her life that were so powerful – her faith, her relationship with her family, her journey from a person who sang standards to a person who sang her own music, finding that authentic voice. I pitched that story and they loved it, and that’s the story that I shaped.”
Tommy added: “I also felt strongly that we have been at the mercy of the white male gaze telling us who we are for a very long time. Because she always knew who she was and she always loved Black people. I felt like this movie was going to be about that, as well. It was going to be a movie where you could see all shapes, colors, dimensions, and nuance of this Black woman. And not just somebody strong, somebody sassy. And not all the things that we’ve been that we’re told is the only part of us that’s interesting. So she can be fragile, she can be scared, she can be unsure, and she can be strong.
So she can be powerful and she can be intimidating. But she’s a human being and a woman who had so much to her. That was the part I was interested in, that complexity.”
The Respect story comes from Callie Khouri and Tracey Scott Wilson, with Wilson writing the screenplay.
Respect was originally supposed to be a Christmas 2020 release, but the pandemic delayed the film. It was first pushed to January 2021, but now, it’ll arrive this summer. In addition to Hudson as Aretha Franklin, the cast also includes Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Audra McDonald as Barbara Franklin, Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Kimberly Scott as Mama Franklin, Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin, Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin, Heather Headley as Clara Ward, Skye Dakota Turner as Young Aretha Franklin, Tate Donovan as John Hammond, and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington.